(Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc on Friday lost a court appeal to go to private arbitration in a case over alleged caste discrimination at its Silicon Valley office, where Indian-origin executives are accused of bias against a colleague from India.
The networking equipment and business software company has denied the allegations. It had argued before a California appeals court that the state civil rights division, which had brought the case on behalf of a worker identified under the pseudonym John Doe, should be subject to an employment settlement agreement signed by Mr. Doe.
“As an independent party, the Department cannot be compelled to adjudicate under an agreement it did not enter into,”; the appeals panel wrote.
In a separate order on Friday, it told a lower court judge to reconsider a decision that would have required the state to identify Mr. Doe. The lower court had said the law prevented it from considering whether Mr Doe’s family members in India could be harmed by naming him.
The high court wrote that “harm to family members anywhere is a legitimate consideration in determining whether a party should be granted anonymity.”
Cisco and the government agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The state sued Cisco in 2020 after Mr. Doe complained to it that staff at the company found no merit in his concerns that two upper-caste managers had allegedly denied him work and demeaned him.